We explored a lot of information for beginning writers in the last post. Let’s continue learning how to add sparkle to your copywork for beginning writers, and then continue on to copywork for readers and writers. Be sure to read all the way through to the giveaway!
Where to Begin Letters
It helps to teach children to write from top to bottom. There are only 2 options where to start–the top solid or dotted middle line.
Children should be taught to leave 2 finger spaces between words. This may look like a bit much, but it is better to have too much than too little. Children tend to veer on the “too little space” side if left to their own devices. Eventually they will stop using their fingers and spaces will become smaller naturally.
When it comes to teaching cursive, you will follow the same basic process. Most of the cursive letters have curves. Students should already be able to make the basic strokes, but focus on letters with all curves first, then move into letters with combined curves and lines. Then practice combining letters, forming words, and so on. For both cursive and print letters, the thing that will make the process sparkle most for a child is going slow enough to guarantee success. Celebrate those successes!
How To Teach a Copywork Lesson for Writers
1.Choose a Well-Written Piece of Writing to Add Sparkle to Your Copywork
The thing that can make copywork sparkle the most is perhaps choosing a great piece of writing to copy. The most popular method is for the parent to choose what they want their children to copy. It should be something the student has seen several times and, ideally, has been discussed.
Give Your Children Some Input to Add Even More Sparkle to Your Copywork
You can also let your students choose the copywork to add sparkle! This is a great idea if they are reluctant writers. They will feel empowered, valued, and be much more likely to do their best work. Children may also wish to keep a Common Place notebook of quotes and things that are precious to them. Or they could create a notebook of quotes from one particular book that they loved. For example, “Wonder,” The Wizard of Oz,” and “Anne of Green Gables” have enough quotes to last an entire year!
Regardless of who chooses, it needs to be something the students have seen before. They should have already thought about the meaning, and now be ready to really analyze the details. They can them copy those spelling, grammar, and punctuation details with confidence.
What Are Good Copywork Resources for Readers and Writers?
You can add some sparkle to your copywork by choosing passages that the children love and enjoy. This will give their work personal value.
Here are a few sources you can consider copying…
- Mother Goose Rhymes
- Sections of Well Known Literature
- Well Written New Literature
- Bible Verses
- Important Information You Want to Remember
- Math Facts
2. Create a Sample
After a sample is chosen, you need to create a neat passage that is easy for the students to copy from. Create it in a font that is similar to your child’s desired handwriting. If your child is still learning to write on lines, it might help to have it on lines.
You can hand-write your copywork on lined paper, or you can use a font to create it. Here are some suggested fonts for traditional print, d’nealeon/ pre-cursive, and cursive writing that are similar to the way they are typically taught in handwriting courses. Choose the one that seems most appropriate for your child. If you have different children at different levels, you may have one child copying a passage in print and one copying it in cursive.
Dotted Traditional Print
Learning Curve BV Font–This one also comes with a dotted option!
Spelling Bee–This one adds a little sparkle by putting a little bee at the bottom of all the capital letters, though it isn’t too distracting.
Cursive Lined Fonts for Beginning Cursive Writers
Life Lessons–This font contains arrows to show students which direction to write when forming letters. Students could copy the letters without copying the arrows. Some students get frustrated with arrows, so do what works best for your child.
Groups of Fonts
Websites for Making Handwriting Sheets
If you want something simple where you can type your text in and go, try these online worksheet generators.
3.Model How to Write the Passage
Modeling how to write the passage is an important step that many people skip. Even students who already know how to form their letters can benefit from this step. It gives them important reminders and causes them to pause and consider how they are writing, not simply hurry and put something on the paper.
The focus should be on quality, not quantity. If they practice sloppy writing, sloppy writing becomes the norm. They need to give their best effort and have a habit of good handwriting.
4. It’s Time for the Student to Copy The Original Passage
Writing Papers and Materials
As long as children are writing, and there is space to copy the passage below or beside the original, there really is no wrong answer. Consider the child’s age and development. Some possible choices could include…
- Hand Held Dry Erase Boards
- Hand Held Chalk Boards–Hand-held is specified because a different kind of grip is used to write on a vertical board.
- Primary Paper with Lines
- Lined Paper with Texture–Raise lines add another dimension for kinesthetic learners by enabling students to feel where the letters should go.
- Notebook Paper
- Graph Paper–This is typically used in Europe and gives not only horizontal guides, but vertical guides for letter size as well.
- A Copywork Book which will show progress over time
- A Premade Copywork Book from Your Curriculum such as Institute for Excellence in Writing’s grammar series or 365 Plus Days of Thankfulness
- Notebooking Pages such as Apologia Science or unit study notebooks
- A Personalized and Printed Worksheet–The passage is chosen carefully and prepared by the teacher on a page where the student can see the correctly written passage and has room to copy it.
- Colored paper–just for fun!
- Artwork–Word art and calligraphy are very popular and can really help students understand that the way their writing looks is important. How sparkly is that?!
Enter to Win Your Own Digital Copy of Minivan Ministries’ 365+ Days of Thankfulness. You Can Use It For Copywork!
Pencils with great erasers are my go-to tool because students can erase their mistakes, but, nobody said it had to be a boring yellow pencil. Add some sparkle to your copywork with fun pencils and erasers or mechanical pencils. Once a student has really mastered a letter, word, or passage, let them celebrate by writing with a sparkly pen, colored pencils, or markers!
Focus on Form
This is the time for students to focus on their form. They should sit up straight in a comfortable chair with their feet on the floor and the table at a height just a couple inches above their bent elbows. Paper should be slightly slanted. It may help to print an image to show them how they should sit or have them sit correctly and take their picture. For kids who love having their picture made, that’s sparkle! Ask your child, “Do you look like the picture?”
This is a short task in which students should spend no more than 10 minutes. Whatever they need to concentrate, whether it is silence or classical music, is fine. If copywork takes longer than that, shorten the passage next time. Remember, it should be an enjoyable experience! If a student is not doing their best, however, have them redo the work. Once they realize they have to do their best the first time, doing their best will become a habit.
5. Have Students Compare Their Writing to the Original
Charlotte Mason did not want children getting used to looking at mistakes and becoming used to them. She wanted them to be familiar with the correct formations. Ask your child, “Does this look like the original? Which part do you think is the best? Is there any part that you think you still need to work on?” Hopefully there are no mistakes, but allow them to fix them. If students did not do their best effort, have them do it all again. They will learn to do it right the first time. If they miss a lot when giving their best effort, you are assigning too much. Cut back next time.
Once everything is correct, add some sparkle to your copywork by celebrating! Artistic students may wish to decorate their favorite quotes and passages. Allow students to take ownership and pride in what they do.
Advice for Some of Our Sparkliest Learners–Lefties
Left handed children are known for their creativity and being unique. I can attest to this because I have a lefty of my own. Admittedly, I have not always done the best job of teaching her. Simply telling a leftie to do the opposite of what you are doing doesn’t quite cut it most of the time. Check out these tips from other lefties and check out Handwriting Without Tears, a program that takes lefties into consideration. My leftie suggests focussing on the formation of the letters more than on the hand itself. She said her confidence grew after she had a few letters under her belt. Keep encouraging your lefties and remind them that they are special and they can do it!
If you found this post useful, please make sure to check out “How to Add Sparkle to Your Copywork–Part 1!”
Enjoy Your Copywork! Let us know your favorite tips, tricks, and passages for adding sparkle to your copywork below!